Street Photography is one of the hardest genres and therefore quite frustrating when trying it out for a short time. Not only will the pictures look totally different from the ones you see from your role models, the question is if you even will overcome your fear of photographing in public and getting closer to strangers.
A Street Photographer needs to master not only photography but also grow a strong character to deal with the frustration and conquer his shyness.
Hence even if you are not interested in Street Photography, I recommend you to try it for a longer time and see it as the most efficient practice you can get.
Whether you are a portrait, wedding or even landscape photographer, Street Photography teaches you a lot of lessons you can apply to your usual favorite genre.
Be comfortable with Strangers
We are growing up with social restrictions and boundaries. As part of a social group, we are taught to follow the rules and fit in. This is appropriate for most situations for example at a 9 to 5 office job.
When you are a Wedding Photographer, you deal with new people at every marriage and have to be in front of a huge crowd. Even if you are a shy person, you have to be open to everyone without any fear of meeting strangers. There is no second chance for a wedding photographer and if you are afraid to shoot because some of the guests observe you and you are the center of attention for the portrait shoot, Street Photography can help you to get accustomed and get comfortable around new people.
Doing candid Street Photography requires you to get close and be comfortable whatever you are doing. Whether you are just standing at one corner waiting for the right light, while people are passing by, or you are doing flash photography on the street. Fear is an absolute antagonist in Street Photography that we have to beat.
When I am out on the street I search for real emotions. As a Photographer I don’t want to influence the scene — I want to capture real moments. To achieve this goal there are different techniques and behaviors that you can learn.
Shooting from the hip can help you to frame without looking through the viewfinder. This way you become a lot quicker but need to be aware that the composition suffers most of the time.
The most secure way to become stealthier is to become more confident. People have a sense of your insecurity or if you feel uncomfortable. By practicing more often you will become more secure, hence stealthier and people won’t notice you very much.
This is a huge benefit for any Documentary Photographer whose aim it is to capture candid moments as well.
During a wedding ceremony, there are a lot of emotions, but unfortunately, most people alter their behavior when they sens a camera. Instead of laughing openly they only smile moderately or are holding back their tears of joy.
Doing Street Photography can help you to capture those candid emotions more securely.
You might think that the composition doesn’t have a huge influence on studio portraits or in your genre and that you know already most of the important rules.
Well, the truth is that you never fully learn all the ins and outs of photography composition. Street Photography very quickly shows you where you lack in your understanding of applying the rules correctly.
It teaches you how important the background is and that no amount of bokeh can deny this fact.
That layering can introduce depth even though only one subject is present in your portrait pictures.
In Street Photography you have to deal with failure way more often than with success stories. The Street is unpredictable and even if you give your best, you might not come home with a picture you are satisfied with. At first, this feels very unfair.
But you have to understand that in photography there are things out of our control. Sometimes the weather just isn’t in your favor for a portrait shoot, or the model doesn’t deliver the poses like you wanted them.
If you want to be happy in Street Photography you have to understand this characteristic very early on.
Perseverance is one of the most important traits of Photography. There will always be clients that you can’t satisfy or shootings that you will mess up. Don’t let this grow into your mind, but keep improving and have a positive outlook for the future.
When I look at a photograph I don’t only want to notice what is visible, but be able to read a story into the picture.
A lot of portraits that I see lack a story and are nothing but a superficial picture of a human being.
On the street, there are a lot of stories to be told and as a Street Photographer, I feel that it is my duty to tell them. A photograph without a visible story is nothing but a mere image.
Telling the story, on the other hand, is even more difficult. Just like there are good directors or writers, there are differences when it comes to storytelling in photography. While trying out Street Photography, you will learn how important it is to employ certain story arcs and how the composition leads the viewer to your photograph.
The same applies to your portraits, landscape or wedding photographs.
Street Photography is a candid genre and as Photographers we aren’t able to give instructions or ask for a second chance. If you see the “decisive moment” lying in front of you, you have to be quick to catch it at first glance.
In a matter of (milli)-seconds, you have to get in the right position, compose the image and get the perfect shot.
Portrait photography or other posed shootings can go on for hours with thousands of different pictures at the end of the session. Nonetheless, there are still “magical” moments that you ought to capture.
Street Photography can not only help you to understand the craft, which means to control your camera on the fly but also to develop a good eye to spot these moments.
Often time photographers are more involved in fiddling with their gear and changing the settings back and forth to find the “perfect” set-up.
In Street Photography we have to work under real conditions with quickly changing light or weather. Adapting to each new condition gives you a deeper understanding of the exposure triangle.
When you are doing an outdoor shooting, you won’t have to worry much about the settings of your camera anymore, you will know them instinctively.
In addition to that, you will find out very quickly which focus mode works the best for you. If you are either a fan of manual focusing or the different auto-focus modes. Understanding the hyperfocal distance can improve your landscape photography as well.
Article and images by Sebastian Jacobitz. Check out Sebastian’s outstanding work at his website: https://streetbounty.com